At the end of the Physics of the Cosmos (Astr B1) course, the successful student will be able to:
The amount of time you need to commit to this course is equivalent to what you would have for a regular course in a classroom. You will be able to set your own schedule as to what time of day you do the learning, but the discussion postings, homework, quizzes, and exams will have particular due times every week. This online section is intended for college students who cannot make it to a regular astronomy lecture and who do not need a classroom setting to learn challenging material. Learning the material is your responsibility and it will require a great deal of self-discipline, especially in a distance education mode of learning!
Do not sign up for this course if you cannot devote as much time to this on-line course as you would a regular course in a classroom---realistically, at least 9 (usually more!) hours of study/learning time per week! Also, do not sign up for the internet class if you are looking for a class less rigorous than the face-to-face version. Modern astronomy deals with some very mind-expanding stuff requiring sophisticated abstract and logical thinking so you will need to give your brain TIME to mull over and digest the concepts. Modern astronomy is mostly "physics of the cosmos"—how things work and how we know.
I got two Bachelor of Science degrees, one in Physics and one in Astronomy, at the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ) in 1987. I worked for a year to decompress from the rigors of studying and then went on to graduate school at the University of Washington (in the Astronomy Department). I got my Master of Science in Astronomy in 1990 and finished my PhD in Astronomy in 1995.
While at the University of Washington I taught the introductory astronomy course, the introductory planetary science course, and the introductory cosmology course. I found I enjoyed teaching much more than research. I came to Bakersfield College in 1996. I adapted my 10-week introductory astronomy course to the 16-week semester at BC.
To find out more about me, visit my homepage.
Your grade will be based on your performance on three exams (about 26% course grade) + final (about 19% course grade), 23 homework assignments posted on the Sapling Learning system (about 26% of the course grade), 11 quizzes (14% course grade), 1 Skywatch (about 7% course grade), & in-class projects - classroom participation (about 8% course grade). All points will be added up and the sum divided by the maximum possible (excluding extra credit). The course grade will be determined by the following percentage scale:
Unlike high school, it is possible in a college course to get an ``F'' if your performance on the required assignments is below the ``D'' threshold regardless of the effort you put into the course.
Assignments and lecture slides will be posted on this class Canvas. Check the class Canvas several times a week.
The homework assignments will stress critical reasoning (and some computation). Homework assignments are due by 5:00 PM on the Sapling Learning system. Exam questions are drawn partly from the required homework assignments. No late (including tardy) homework assignments will be accepted. Those who do all or a majority of the homework assignments score on average at least one whole letter grade higher on the exams than those who do less of the homework assignments---the homework assignments really do help!
Warning: the homework canNOT be done on a cell phone or tablet. It must be done on a regular computer (laptop or desktop) with Flash enabled and turned on.
Quizzes & exams are multiple-choice format. The quizzes will be on Wednesdays except in exam weeks or Wednesday holiday. Quizzes (not exams) are open book. The exams are closed book---no live or electronic help, except a calculator, is allowed. The exam material will be drawn from homework, quizzes, in-class projects, lectures, and the textbook review questions. Dates for exams are given at the end of the syllabus and also on class website. There are no make-up quizzes or exams without hardcopy documentation of a medical or legal emergency from an officially-recognized neutral third party. Any other reason, including work schedules, will not be accepted. You will need to do the quiz or exam make-up the week of your return. If you have another school activity or family event that prevents you from taking the exam or quiz on the given date, you will need to arrange with the instructor an alternate quiz/exam time that is before the given date and it will need to be done on campus with a hardcopy form. Quizzes and Exams are timed and will be due by 5 PM (Pacific Timezone). They will be posted on the due date by 8 AM and become unavailable after 5 PM (Pacific Timezone). Quizzes will not be emailed to you. If you forget to make a copy of the quiz, you will need to come in to my office to get a hardcopy.
The Skywatch assignment is due April 30 (Monday) at 5 PM (Pacific Timezone) and is worth 60 points. No late Skywatch reports will be accepted---mark your calendar and hand it in early if you will not be able to turn it in on the due date! Choose one of the Skywatch assignments described in chapters 4 and 5 of the Student Guide. The Skywatch requires a hardcopy report that will be turned in (or mailed or faxed) to me on campusNO emailed skywatch reports! The hardcopy typed, complete data table, star chart, and/or photos are due by April 4 (Wednesday) at 5 PM Pacific Timezone (NOT emailed!). No late, untyped, or incomplete data records accepted; hand in early if necessary! You must turn in the complete, typed hardcopy (NOT emailed) data record by 5 PM of the due date or you will receive zero credit for the final report (not just the data record)! Therefore, April 3 is the last possible date to complete your observations. If you mail me your data record or your final report, allow for at least 3 days mail transit time so that it arrives by the due date! The due dates for the final report and the data record are when the hardcopy must be in my hands, not the postmark.
Understanding how the universe around us became the way it is and how the parts interact with each other enriches and deepens our appreciation for the artistry around us. However, it does mean that one has to confront and leave aside misconceptions and grapple with some complex (but manageable!) ideas. This class will be challenging but I hope you will find it rewarding and worth the time it takes to learn the subject so that at the end of the semester you will have that appreciation of our universe I spoke of above.
Your role: I expect you to take responsibility for your own learning. The expectations for a college class are a definite jump up from what you had in high school! The standard for minimum acceptable work, the quality and amount of study time outside of class, and the pace the material is covered will be a significant jump up from high school. Unfortunately, it does take dedicated time and you will not learn if you fail to do the reading and homework, quiz, and discussion assignments every week. This online section is intended for college students who cannot make it to a regular astronomy lecture and who do not need a classroom setting to learn challenging material. Learning the material is your responsibility and it will require a great deal of self-discipline, especially in a distance education mode of learning! Do not sign up for this course if you cannot devote as much time to this on-line course as you would a regular course in a classroom! Also, do not take the internet section if you want a class less rigorous than the face-to-face sections.
You will need to devote at least 9 hours per week reviewing lecture material, reading the textbook, and doing the homework and Skywatch assignments (Title 5 California Education Code Section 55002.5 says BC's 3-unit courses must be 47 in-class time including Final exam + at least 97 hours outside of class = at least 144 hours total). You will not pass if you only view the lectures and do just the "tutorials" work.Your grade is determined only by your performance on the required assignments not on ``how well I feel you did''. These expectations are very similar to what you'll need for success in a professional (white-color) job. Unlike high school, it is possible in a college course to get an ``F'' if your performance on the required assignments is below the ``D'' threshold regardless of the effort you put into the course.
Students with disabilities who believe they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact Disabled Student Programs & Services at Center for Student Success (aka Student Services Building), Room 10, 395-4334, as soon as possible to better ensure such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. All requests for accommodations require appropriate advance notice to avoid a delay in services. Please discuss approved accommodations with me so we can work together to ensure your access and success at BC.
How will you succeed at BC this semester? What determines success is not circumstance, but habit. Habits of Mind, It’s POSSIBLE at BC has many free tools intended to help you accomplish your goals in school. Only you can overcome the challenges you face this semester and in life. Start out successfully with these steps:
Success takes energy, planning, and strategies for both the expected challenges in school as well as the unexpected twists life can take. Ask your professor for more information. Now is the time to develop new habits.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Make the choice early on in this class to try one or more of the above free services.
To see if your learning method is suitable for this online class, see the OrienTater: Are you ready to learn online?
Although most required assignments are due on Fridays, you will need to work on the class materials and assignments
Absence for an exam or quiz will result in zero credit. In the event of an unavoidable and documented medical or legal emergency that prevents you from taking a quiz or exam, I will consider a make-up quiz or exam on an individual basis. Work schedules are not valid excuses. The documentation must be from an officially-recognized neutral third party. You must take the exam or quiz the week of your return. Abuse of this policy will void your privilege of a make-up exam or quiz. It is possible to take the exam or quiz early in the case of medical, legal, or job conflicts. Exam and quiz dates are given on the class website. The Final Exam will be comprehensive and will be on the date given in the printed class schedule. It is always possible to take an exam or quiz early but usually only within a couple of days early and it must be done on campus with a hardcopy form.
Skywatch assignments are due by 5 PM (Pacific Timezone) on the given due date. No late homework (including tardy!) will be accepted. No late Skywatch reports and no late, incomplete, or untyped data records accepted at all. If you are sick, have a classmate turn it in. The Skywatch report & data record canNOT be emailed. If you mail me your skywatch data record or your skywatch final report, allow for at least 3 days mail transit time so that it arrives by the due date! Assignments, including quizzes and exams, can always be turned in early.
Homework assignments on the Sapling Learning system are due by 5:00 PM sharp of the due day (not 5:01 or later!!). Tardy homework assignments will get zero credit on the system. If you do not do the homework, it is 99% likely that you will fail the course.
Many have marked the speed with which Muad'Dib learned the necessities
of Arrakis. The Bene Gesserit, of course, know the basis of this speed. For
the others, we can say Muad'Dib learned rapidly because his first training was
in how to learn. And the first lesson of all was the basic trust that he could
learn. It is shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn,
and how many more believe learning to be difficult. Muad'Dib knew that every
experience carries its lesson. (From the "Humanity of Muad'Dib" by
the Princess Irulan)
--Frank Herbert in Dune
last updated: January 11, 2018